Try 1x for free
1x is a curated photo gallery where every image have been handpicked for their high quality. With a membership, you can take part in the curation process and also try uploading your own best photos and see if they are good enough to make it all the way.
Right now you get one month for free when signing up for a PRO account. You can cancel anytime without being charged.
Try for free   No thanks
Writing a Travel Story: Hyderabad in 48 hours

by Editor Peter Walmsley 

Most photographers are pretty busy so when the opportunity comes up to visit a new location and we’ve only got a long weekend to do it, some planning is required. This article is a case study on capturing a city in 48 hours (excluding getting there and back) with the aim of gathering enough material (photographs and text) to create a magazine article. In short, a photo story.

Do note that this is quite a different photographic assignment to capturing single fine-art style images. There is more emphasis on gathering information for the text, some of which can be done later. And this type of assignment does not usually allow the luxury of being able to go back to a location for a second chance if we didn’t get it right the first time or we were diverted by circumstances beyond our control. We may be lucky, and planning improves our chances of success, but in the main, with a 48 hour window, we get one shot at it.

The choice of location was deliberate: there had to be enough of interest to create sufficient content and there had to be some unique angles. I hadn’t been to Hyderabad in southern India before or indeed anywhere in that region so, given the diversity of culture across the nation, I was hoping for something different. Some internet searching and talking to locals outside the area seemed to confirm that the place was worth a visit so the next step was to identify a guide. I have learned that it is very difficult to cover more than a few attractions in a short space of time in a new location without a local guide. Even if you know where you want to get to, local logistics can be baffling and finding the best locations for good photography is time consuming.

After some research, I settled on a local photographer and with his assistance, set out a possible visit schedule to cover 48 hours. Such a schedule had to take account of opening times, time-of-day lighting and knowledge of any local events. I then carried out further internet searches to identify ideas for capturing specific scenes (monuments, street life, cityscapes etc.) and refined the schedule with that knowledge. Sometimes, initial ideas just don’t inspire and they are deleted from the schedule. Alternatively, the schedule should not be so tight as to reduce the opportunity for unplanned imagery but it seems to be that case that good unplanned shots generally result from a well-planned itinerary.

My list of attractions included a mixture of street photography and monuments. In the former were typical flower and fruit & vegetable markets but also a more unusual sheep and goat market and a relatively unknown area of potters. On the monuments, it’s always a good idea to pick those off the beaten track or find a creative angle to the traditional point and click image. Standard tourist shots are deadly boring. And don’t forget to carry a notebook and keep a log of where you’ve been: after the 6th venue, they all merge into one! Talk to the locals too: their stories are usually very interesting and add colour to your story.






How did it work out? Well, the itinerary list wasn’t bad. We were caught out by an impromptu public holiday in which a number of shops and markets were closed and by several monuments on our list banning photography. Such is the nature of travel photography. The flower and vegetable markets were not in themselves unique and one had to work harder to be creative but the potters and the goat market were a novelty. It was difficult too to find creative angles to some of the monuments but 2 of the tomb complexes were sufficiently extensive, unusual and uncrowded to provide some interesting opportunities to add local people to historic backdrops.

The resulting story is given below.


Hyderabad in 48 hours

India’s 4th largest city, Hyderabad is big. With a lot of traffic, even by Indian standards. But as the capital of the state of Telangana, it has accumulated a fair amount of history stretching back to 1591, which makes it a fair target for a long weekend visit. Arrival at the airport (which was opened in 2008) was efficient and there are a variety of ways to reach the city. Inside the airport building, pre-paid taxis are priced around Rs 1800 but walk outside to the taxi ranks and metered vehicles cost around half with buses less than half again.

There is quite a lot of choice of accommodation in Hyderabad from the very basic to the Taj Palace whose rooms start at around £400 per night. The Taj was once the palace of the Maharaja but was leased to the Taj Hotel group for conversion to a hotel in 2000. If the budget doesn’t stretch to accommodation, an afternoon tea with a guided tour comes in at Rs3500 a head (plus tax) but be aware that photography is prohibited inside the palace.

Hyderabad’s attractions can generally be divided into ‘architecture’ and ‘street markets’ to use loose labels. They are fairly well spread out around the city so hotel location isn’t too critical but the geographical centre is the large and man-made Hussain Sagar lake which contains a large statue of Buddha. Getting around the city is relatively easy with the Uber network or an auto-rickshaw, traffic congestion notwithstanding and some hotels offer half-day or full day driver packages for greater comfort and convenience.

On the instructions of our guide, we made an early start at 6.30am at Jham Singh temple.


Jham Singh was a cavalier in the Army of Nawab Sikander Jah Nizam III, the ruler of Hyderabad from 1803-1829 who was tasked with purchasing horses for the Nizam. Instead he spent some of the Nizam’s money on building the temple. Enraged, the Nizam started penal proceedings against Jham Singh but relented on the intervention of the Indian prime minister on condition that he build a mosque nearby. And so he did. Photography is not allowed in the temple but it is worth a wander nonetheless.

Our next stop was the vibrant Gudimalkapur flower market.

Originally part of the larger Moazzam Jahi general market which was built by the last Nizam in 1935, the flower trade moved to Gudimalkapur in 2009. Sourcing flowers from nearby cities and states, the place is a hive of human activity and emotion, and a haven for photographers who unusually are generally accepted if not actually welcomed.

Some 10km away is the Monda fruit and vegetable market, said to have been established more than 100 years ago to provide for the British military, it is now losing its charm as retail outlets and markets in local residential areas have become more established.

Still, it remains a fascinating place to walk through and for photographers, the stall holders and their staff are generally equally welcoming.

Our next port of call was Karwan, a major suburb of Hyderabad with a long history which includes being the site of the former diamond market. Today it is home to the Jiyaguda abattoir and goat & sheep market. Not many foreigners come here and a trip around the market is not for the faint hearted but nevertheless worthwhile and again foreign photographers are generally welcomed if not considered something of a novelty with frequent requests for selfies with the locals.

After returning to the hotel for breakfast and a short rest, our next port of call was the Qutb Shahi Tombs, the last resting place of the kings of the Qutb Shahi dynasty who ruled the sultanate of Golkonda, now covering land in the present day states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, from 1518 to 1687. 

Originally restored in the early 19th century, the tombs are now undergoing a further major restoration by the Telangana State Archaeology and Museums Department in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. This work started in 2013 and is still in progress. Consisting of 30 tombs, mosques and a mortuary bath, this is a treat for architecture lovers.


Later that afternoon, we reunited with our guide to visit the streets around the Charminar. The Charminar (literally 4 minarets), constructed in 1591 is both a monument and functioning mosque as well as having become the symbol of Hyderabad. Market stalls surround both the building itself and the myriad of nearby streets.

Laad Bazaar , one of the main streets leading from the monument, is famous for its bangles though this particular day was a holiday and many of the shops were closed.

In other streets typical products include clothes, especially wedding outfits, perfumes and Hyderabad’s famous pearls.

The colourful bobbins in many of the shops are for kites to celebrate Sankranti, a Hindu harvest festival which marks the beginning of spring. Kite flying is particularly popular in Hyderabad which has this year hosted the 5th international kite festival.

With the sun set a last visit to the Charminar for some slow shutter pictures finished a busy day and it was back to the hotel to change and locate a local restaurant.

Another early start the next day, we re-joined our guide at the Kumharvada pottery area in Hyderabad. This is a small settlement of artisans whose families have been practicing their trade in the area for hundreds of years. In fact, 500 years according to one potter.

They make their wares and then fire them in makeshift kilns dug into a soil bank.

Families in this area also create rangoli outside their houses. Rangoli are artistic patterns which are created on the floor or the ground using materials such as coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals. The purpose is to bring good luck to the family but certain ingredients can serve a practical purpose to keep ants and similar insects out.


Back to the hotel for breakfast and a short rest again and then we were out to visit the Paigah Tombs.

This apparently neglected site, 13km from central Hyderabad is now concentrated in 2 acres and is accessed by walking through a residential area. The tombs belonged to the Paigah family, a name of Persian origin conferred on them by the Nizam meaning ‘pomp and rank’ and whose daughters married into the Nizams. The tombs date back to the late 1700s and are remarkable for their intricate carvings. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here examining the craftsmanship and inscriptions.


Our last port of call was the Hussain Sagar lake. It’s a bit difficult to know what to do with this. At the top end there is a children’s park. Towards the bottom is Lumbini Gardens and the nearby NTR Gardens. A multimedia laser show depicting the history of Hyderabad is offered from the Lumbini Gardens in the evenings and it is possible to take a pleasure boat ride out to the statue. A wide boulevard with LED street lights named The Necklace after the similar road in Mumbai joins the NTR gardens to Sanjeevaiah Park at the north end of the lake. Evening promenades around parts of the perimeter are pleasant, though not visually spectacular and dotted with building works.

By now it was early evening. The sun had set and it was back to the hotel. One cannot visit Hyderabad without tasting the speciality of the region: biryani. A search on any of the online dining websites will produce numerous suggestions and a top 10 of recommended venues but it was a bit harder to find something a little more upmarket and which would serve an accompanying glass of beer or wine. At the end of the day, the Golkonda Hotel fitted the bill and served enormous and very tasty portions.

So, there we have it: Hyderabad in 48 hours. There were a number of other places to visit which we didn’t get to such as the Chowmahalla Palace (note no SLR/professional-looking cameras allowed!) and the Golkonda Fort. Ideally, you’d need another day or possibly 2 to do it justice at a relaxed pace.

Peter Walmsley

Very well indepth article! Thanks for sharing
Thanks swapnil. Glad you enjoyed it.